Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ram Joo's Lament for Sheep

Puj Waan
Kani Kadal
Srinagar
2008
As told by a grandaunt.

Ram Joo made his living in an odd way. He worked for municipality. He job was to visit slaughterhouses and stamp the dead animals with seals of approval in ink, declaring them fit or unfit for human consumption. A sensitive man, it is said the violence of his job eventually drove him mad. While stamping the dead sheep he took to singing to them, asking them:

Kata Kha'sh Kya'zi Kor'voy
Hai K'yah Gh'oom
Kata Mash Kosho'ya
Hai K'yah Gh'oomKata Kalas chuya doon
Hai K'yah Gh'oom

Sheep, why did they slay you?
Oh, what it did to me!
Sheep, have they sheared you?
Oh, what it did to me!
Sheep, is your head aching?
Oh, what it did to me!

The neighbourhood kids took to teasing him with the same lines. A sensitive man, it is said the experience eventually made him a saint. Around Habba Kadal area, he came to be known as Ram Joo Tabardar - Ram Joo the Woodcutter.

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A note on an interesting word and a phenomena. Picked from an Uncle.

Slaughterhouses and the areas around them tend to have a peculiar smell that may offend most people visiting. But the people living in the area never notice it. In Srinagar, slaughter houses were around Chotta Bazaar area. The people living in that area never noticed the smell. They had developed a gaenz'nas - meaning their nose had got numb to the stink.

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Aside: Earlier this year caught one of the most famous documentaries on the subject of animal slaughter, considered a milestone in the history of realistic documentary film making, 'Le Sang des BĂȘtes' by Georges Franju (Blood of the Beasts, French, 1949). [link, avoid if you are too sensitive]. A film that isn't completely repulsive because it wasn't made in color. It is not known if any saints were born in France after the film came out.

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Complete song added by Narinder Safaya, Ram Joo's grandson. He adds [via FB]:


He [Ram Joo] had joined Srinagar Municipality around 1920. He was happily married, sired 4 children , three sons and one daughter. He worked as sanitary inspector for fifteen years. He was a spiritual person. He abandoned the job for reason stated by you. For this he was also teased as Ram Joo Maskas. He abandoned his family. His wife probably died of tuberculosis the same year when Kamla Nehru succumbed to T B in Switzerland [1936]. It said in our family she died of "HeH". His children were taken care of his younger brother.Pt Shyam Lal Safaya (Taberdar) . We are from Chinkral Mohalla are known as Taberdars. My great great great grandfather Pt. Ganesh Dass Safaya got the nickname Taberdar as he had a partner who was Taberdar and he had been taken by him as partner in supply of fire wood business to the city dwellers through river by boats known as Bahech [Cargo boats]. In 1960 or 61 when I was 8/9 years old I remember Ram Joo came one day,  took tea and left. For five years we could not trace him. Ultimately my father traced him living in Rock Temple Tiruchirapalli.


1.Four days before Nirwana 2.During his eight years stay at Rock Temple, Tricinapali, T.N.

After return from Tricy.TN.


The house at Chinkral Mohalla

Story of the house by Narinder Safaya:

Taberdar house at Chinkral Mohalla. It is about 200 years old. One Pandit Sukh Ram Safaya was a minister with one of the Afghan Rulers. He had a sister who was married to son of a big landlord in Marraz (now district Anant nag). The woman was very beautifully. From this marriage she had a son. The local Afghan governor of the area had an eye on her.  For protection, she was sent in the dark of night by her husband to her brother's house. Her husband was killed by the said local governor. As Sukh Ram Safaya was very influential revenue collector, nothing bad happened to him. The woman stayed with the brother after being widowed. The child, Nank Chand, grew up under the protection of his maternal uncle and as such came to be known as Nank Chand Safaya. His uncle gave this house to him. Nank chand's son was Pandit.Ganesh Dass Safaya Taberdar, grand father of Swami Ram Joo Taberdar. In the last decade of nineteenth century, the upper storey got gutted and was rebuild by Pandit.Ganesh Dass. We added a floor to it in 1970 and changed the roof to tin from birch and soil. From our kani we could see ring of mountains which cover the entire valley.

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